T&L reports live from Educon 2.2

T&L reports live from Educon 2.2

Educon 22 is an impressive conference held at Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy, and kicked off with a full house of educators and top edtech names from around the country.Self described as "EduCon 2.2 ...is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools."

The event started Friday, January 29, with a panel discussion, "What is smart?" featuring Loren Brichter, developer of Tweetie Twitter software, Martha Farah, Director of the Center for Neuroscience & Society and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Prof. Eddie Glaude, William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies. Chair, Center for African American Studies, Princeton University, and more.

The next morning, the overflowing room listened to keynote Marilyn Perez, Regional Superintendent - Central Region, School District of Philadelphia, who encouraged the audience to "say to all students at a young age that it is possible to achieve, regardless of their circumstances."

The other impressive thing about Educon22 is the students, who crowded the SLA in their white lab coats, quick to help anyone find the schedule, the bathroom, the wireless password, or the bagels. Their passion for education and their school is an impressive testament to the hard work of Chris Lehmann and his team at SLA.

I attended the session that discussed strategies that work to bring the most resistant teachers on board for professional development with Reading Public Schools' Danja Mahoney, Michael Springer, and Beth Knittle. The conversation started with the question: why does PD stink? Some answer highlights:
* sessions held at worst time of day
* top down decision making results in programs that aren't helpful to teachers
one time thing
* PD programs driven by school's "vision" rather than practical classroom needs
* no real modeling
* PD opportunities not of interest to teachers
* lack of good leadership

Some best practice solutions offered included:
* hands on workshops and give teachers a product they can take home (eg demo wiki)
* sustainable: create some way to followup with these teachers (GoogleDocs, wiki, PLC, Yammergroup, etc.). Encourage the conversation to continue after the PD event.
* Encourage school leaders to join this conversation
* do a pre-survey before PD event to make sure you are presenting what the teachers want.
* must have buy-in from teachers

Click HERE to watch this ongoing conversation.

Sunday kicked off with a panel discussion on "What Is The Relationship / Disconnect Between Policy Reform and Pedagogical Reform?" moderated by our own Kevin Hogan. Panelists included Michael Horn, co-author of Disrupting Class and Executive Director of Innosight Institute, Linda Roberts, former Director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education, Doug Levin, Executive Director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (and former Deputy Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education) and more. There were more compelling sessions (conversations) happening throughout the day, and the energy of the attendees was palpable.

The conversations were flying, with Twitter being the principal mode of communication. Jerry Swiatek was kind enough to archive these tweets on his website, or you can see the ongoing Twitter feed on the Educon 2.2 website.